I just read the obituary of Thomas A. Steitz, who shared the 2009 Nobel prize in Chemistry for his work on determining the structure of the ribosome:
The obit briefly mentions how he settled on X-ray crystallography as a career path.
There's a longer explanation in his Nobel autobiography:
The big moment happened when he went to Harvard as a graduate student:
In the spring of my first year in 1963, I attended three Dunham lectures given by Max Perutz in which he presented the first atomic resolution protein crystal structure, that of myoglobin. He showed stereo slides, and I was stunned to see the atomic structure of myoglobin pop out in three dimensions over Max’s head; this was clearly the way to understand how macromolecules carry out their biological functions.
Too bad we don't have 3D views in Foldit. Other protein viewing tools have 3D options. Under Style -> Stereographic, Jmol has options for three different types of 3D glasses, plus "cross-eyed" and "wall-eyed" viewing. (Cross-eyed works for me, and you eyes *don't* stay that way.)
Steitz also mentions the benefits of taking shop in high school:
...working with tools and materials that I learned in the shop courses have proven invaluable for me in subsequent years, at home and in the laboratory, including constructing models of proteins...